Friday, December 23, 2016

Men's Christmas Gift Guide

If I do say so myself I'm pretty good at gift buying but before I put my initiative into action I like to check if there is anything specific the men in my life would like. This often results in some dithering and typically I find myself days from Christmas with just one or two men to buy for.

My dad for example 'doesn't want anything' although will 'joke' on Christmas Day about his lack of presents or more annoyingly request my assistance ordering something online I could've gave him on Christmas or then you have Ben who told me mere days ago what he would like after I'd already come up with my own ideas and so he would have at least something to open on the day.

Whether the men in your life have piles of gifts that are looking a little small in comparison to other members of the family or you need to just find something here are a few suggestions from me to you.

First is The Ladybird Book of The Hangover. I love Ladybird books and my early readers will remember that I used to collect original vintage copies of the books we know and love. With the current trend for nostalgia and the release of this adult versions of the book they are great fun to gift friends and family - especially with hangovers ensuing.

My brother loves a beauty product or two and especially what he calls my 'swag' (the products I receive to review on Florence and Mary) so he'll be excited to open up these products from Embryolisse and Mandara Spa on Christmas Day which have nicely padded out the Lush items he requested. 

Mandara Spa you may know as the high street brand from the people behind Elemis and you'll be able to pick up their products in your local Sainsbury as you're stocking up on Christmas Day supplies. The Mandara Spa for Men Essentials Kit* contains a lip and aftershave balm which is the perfect size to slot in a gift card and what I have done for my dad as it makes wrapping far easier and looks a little more exciting than just the gift card and the Mandara Spa Mens Body Duo* will be an ideal set for my brother to use as he always has a bag with toiletries required for work and when he hits the gym.

I'm keen to get my brothers thoughts on the Embryolisse Mens Shower Gel* which I can say does smell amazing and I know he's a big fan of aftershave balms so Embryolisse's* offering, if as good as the moisturisers I use should be a big hit.

If in any further doubt then consider their favourite TV show and who doesn't love Game of Thrones? I'm wrapping the Game of Thrones Lannister Banner Pack* up as a gift for my brother and nephew. Whilst Brody is too young for Game of Thrones it's Lego-esq nature means it'll be a fun present for them to enjoy together. The Hound's Helmet* will be going to my brother in law who is a big fan of the show and I'm sure he'll have trouble keeping it away from the kids.

I know the men will be happy with their gifts and they're all products that I could easily reach for on the high street without having to tackle the larger shopping departments and all will make a nice accompaniment to gift vouchers or the traditional male gift in our family, a bottle of booze.

What are you buying the man in your life?

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sponsored Post | The Crown Costumes

The Crown Neflix Costumes

The Crown Neflix Costumes

One of my Christmas traditions is always a trip to Liberty in London. It's a beautiful store at any time of the year but their Christmas Department is always one of my favourites. On this years trip I was able to admire costumes from Netflix's recent smash hit The Crown. The show is being talked about by everyone and everywhere but I've yet to hit play saving a binge for over the Christmas holidays and I can't wait.

The Crown is set as Queen Elizabeth II takes to the throne in the late 40's as hits my favourite fashion era, the 1950s. It won't escape anyones notice that many of the dresses I wear today have a nod to the 50s style with their fuller skirts which suit my figure and I would happily have taken any of the costumes on display home with me.

Emmy Award winning Michele Clapton, who you may know as one of the costume designers on Game of Thrones was tasked with both matching historically documented outfits and creating inspired pieces for the perfect wardrobe of the lead characters.

It's no surprise that the The Crown is one of the most expensive TV series' ever made due to Michel estimating that 95% of the principal characters costumes were custom made with only extras wearing authentic vintage clothing.

Michele has perfectly demonstrated through fashion the difference in style and position of both Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret such as in the evening gowns above and it was a great opportunity to be able to see them 'in real life'.

If you're a fan of vintage style and want to update your wardrobe with an original dress of the era than you must visit Rokit*. Rokit began with humble beginnings on Camden Market before their success meant demand required bricks and mortar stores and an online presence.

All items for Rokit are sourced and assessed by their team of vintage experts in the UK's biggest vintage warehouse and stock is sent daily to their four London stores. The stores and the website are a dream for the vintage connoisseur and if you're looking for something special and one of kind to wear for New Years Eve then you must check them out. I have my eye on this little number.

Would like to channel your inner 50's queen or perhaps your a 70's disco queen. What do you think of vintage fashion and have you seen The Crown yet?

*this post is in collaboration with Rokit

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rose Gold Christmas Gifts from JewelleryBox

Jewellery Box

I think I have received a piece of jewellery every Christmas since I can remember. Jewellery is always a good idea whether it's the candy necklaces I would find in my stocking to the Tiffany Jewellery or Pandora charm bracelet phases I had. In fact this year there are a couple of pieces I've requested on my Christmas List this year I hope to open at the weekend but ahead of that I was lucky to receive a couple of lovely pieces from JewelleryBox.

JewelleryBox is an online retailer offering sterling silver and 9ct gold jewellery at costume jewellery prices and they stock over 10,000 pieces for you to choose a gift for any friend or family member without breaking the bank nor risking green wrists by Boxing Day.

I was invited to pick from their range and it was difficult narrowing it down to just two pieces. I have a tendency to eye roll at the rose gold loving cliches but happily joined them as I picked out the 18ct Rose Gold Dipped Sterling Silver Infinity Bracelet and Necklace*.

This is a gorgeous and simple set to wear and I'm really fond of the 18ct Rose Gold Dipper Sterling Silver Infinity Necklace* and wear it often. Spending a lot of time at home or running errands locally I'm wearing more casual clothes and no need for the chunkier style of necklace I would usually wear. This simple design sets off my often black clothing and allows a simply t-shirt to have a little edge and make me feel a little more put together. At less than ten pounds at £8.15 this is such a nice affordable item that I'm sure anyone would enjoy opening on Christmas Day.

The matching 18ct Rose Gold Dipper Sterling Silver Infinity Belcher Bracelet* is another great piece and the fact it's sterling silver helps a single girl like me who once I've found someone to put it on for me (those damn stiletto nails!) I will leave on for days. Often I've had bracelets which whilst I've loved after they've been dunked in water one time too many start to look a little worn and not so pretty.

If you still have some last minute gifts to purchase you have until 3pm tomorrow for first class post or next day shipping will be available until Friday so check JewelleryBox out online, I'm sure you'll find something you love and their packaging means there's no need for additional wrapping.

What jewellery is on your wish list?

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Sponsored Post | Bidvine for Photographers

Depending on the circles you move in one Tweet or Facebook status asking for advice or services can result in multiple responses but other times it's tumbleweed. Bidvine is a fantastic resource to help you find all manner of professionals from plumbers to personal trainers in your local area with a few simple online steps. I was offered the opportunity to test Bidvine and find out just how easy it was to obtain a quote from the professional services on offer and can share my thoughts with you today.

I decided to use Bidvine to investigate photographers in my local area with a view to using the images on Florence and Mary. It's something I've been pondering for some time in lieu of an 'instagram husband' and whilst my friends do a sterling job of producing some images for use on these pages I acknowledge they are not competing with some of the images seen on others blogs; it's not escaped my notice that many fashion bloggers are hiring photographers to help create their imagery and I was keen to explore doing the same.

To get started you type in the service you need, in my case 'portrait photography' and your post code so that local professionals can be sourced for quotes. A series of questions based on your request are asked; what type of portrait, where will the photographs be taken, what style of photography would you like, how would you like to receive images and whether you require the photographer to travel to you or you can travel to them.

All the questions you are asked have a drop down list of options so the process is very quick and ensures that your quotes will be received based on everything you need and avoiding further back and forth or miscommunication.

You will need to create an account whether by email, Facebook or Google+ and will be advised that you will your quotes shortly, in my case I was advised three days time. In face within the hour I had received two responses with differing quotes based on my budget and photographers looking to engage.

I was really impressed with the speed of the responses and how easy it was to use Bidvine, and certainly in the instance of a photographer which is somewhere I wouldn't know where to start looking locally for this type of project. I'll definitely be sourcing other services via Bidvine in the future and will be exploring the photography aspect further in the new year.

If you are looking to hire photographers or any professional service do check Bidvine as I'm sure you'll find what you need.

*this post is sponsored by Bidvine

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Gifts from Joan Collins Timeless Beauty

Joan Collins Timeless Beauty Review

Joan Collins oozes glamour and sophistication and if you want to channel a bit of that for yourself, friend or family member this Christmas look no further than the Joan Collins Timeless Beauty range.

One of the most popular products from the outstanding line is the 'paparazzi ready' Compact Duo Powder and Lipstick* which literally has Joan Collins stamped all over it. A luxurious gold compact which houses a Meticulous Face Powder and your favourite Divine Lips lipstick from the Joan Collins Timeless Beauty range - you pick your shade at purchase but any lipstick from Joan can be used - ready for those all important touch ups on the go whether it's a day of meetings or another Christmas party.

The face powder is gorgeous, silky, smooth and could easily replace my love for Chanel Les Beiges and the fact it keeps a lipstick to hand and can easily be slipped into my handbag makes it well worth the £34 price tag. My only criticism is that you only have the neutral shade available in the Compact Duo (from what I've seen) and although it works perfectly well for powdering my nose when I'm on the go I would be concerned in the Summer when tanned and it'd be needed even more. There is something quite 'fancy' about pulling out the compact and touching up my make up.

I received the Divine Lips Lipstick* in shade Lady Joan and again was taken with the luxury gold packaging, reminiscent of Charlotte Tilbury for a cheaper price. The shade Lady Joan is a raspberry pink with a sheen, but extremely pigmented. Perfect for the time of year if you're looking for something other than red to wear. The lipsticks are creamy and I was impressed with how long they lasted - almost no need for touching up.

I was also able to try the the Glorious Gloss* in shade Piper which is more pigmented than I expected, creamy but not sticky and one I have been reaching for on a regularly basis and my first foray into Joan Collins Timeless Beauty has been a positive experience and I can't wait to try more.

If you're a fan of Hollywood glamour you'll want to think about adding some items to your Christmas list.

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Gifts for your teens

Whilst I can always think of some beauty essential to add to my Christmas list as a beauty blogger and with an abundance of products already at my disposal I do miss my younger days when there would be an array of beauty gifts I'd be wishing for and sitting with the Boots catalogue circling products I neeeeeded.

I've rounded up a selection of beauty favourites that have come my way during the festive season which might be ideal for any of the younger ladies on your Christmas list, starting with the Magnitone which in fact you don't need to be a teen to enjoy. The Magnitone Precious Collection* is perfect for the holiday season in its jewel tones, in my case I have the Glitter Gold version. Cleansing brushes garner mixed opinions but despite being cautious when I first tried the Magnitone out in the Summer I'm really enjoying it. The Magnitone range is more affordable than many options and if you're looking to encourage a cleansing routine this is a good place to start.

There were worries that a cleansing brush such as the Magnitone would be too harsh, the horror of purging but I find it simply gives me skin a thorough clean and is no less abrasive than using a flannel. I use mine a couple of times a week, especially finding it useful on days when I've been lax in my usual routine and skin needs some extra attention.

Sticking with the skincare, Dermalogica is a brand I've used a lot during 2016 and the Dermalogica Clear Start* kit is great for those with oily and acne prone skins. A festively packaged set of three products that calm and rebalance the skin leaving it clear and refreshed.

A Cleansing Wash, a moisturiser for day and an overnight formula to go to work on a congested complexion in decent 15ml sizes that will allow you to try before you commit to larger sized products.

If in doubt make up can always be a hit Studio London* at Superdrug has many products in their range and I love the set of three sparkly nail varnish which can be worn alone or over the top of your existing nail colour ready for Christmas Day or planning ahead to your New Years Eve celebrations.

A sure fire hit with an hit is a product from on of our more famous YouTubers and the Tanya Burr 'It's Kissmas' Lip Gloss Duo* is already en route to the US to be opened by a special younger lady I know.

I love my Beauty Blender but it's not the most affordable option so I was intrigued to see how the Flutter Make Up Sponge* for only £1 would fair. Ok it's no comparison, it's certainly firmer than the beauty blender and is smaller in size but it works and it's been performing adequately when the former needs cleaning. This is a great stocking filler, especially with its cute packaging.

My final offering is Tribe Eau De Toilette* which if you're in your thirties like I am may remember, especially as they were sponsors of one of Take That's tours 'back in the day'. I was a regular wearer of this scent in my teens and I was transported straight back when I received a bottle of the scent making a comeback. If you want to share some memories with one of your younger charges this is a lovely gift to evoke some nostalgia.

What is on your teens wishlist this year?

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Review : Friction Free Shaving - A Monthly Subscription Service

Ladies Razor Subscription Service

Subscription boxes and services are in abundance these days and when I received one from Friction Free Shaving* I thought it was something of a gimmick but would appeal to some and worthy of testing. I was amused after my first use and my subsequent investigations into how the service works that I have been completely sold. Yes if I was handed this as a gift I'd probably roll my eyes but I'm sure months later I'd not know how I have lived without it.

Friction Free Shaving is simple in it's genius. Log onto, pick your razor type, add on any lotions and potions and hit subscribe. You'll receive your razor and four weeks worth of blades and then each subsequent month following you'll receive your months worth of blades.

As I said when I read about this service it sounded slightly gimmicky, is this really necessary but if like me you weep at the cost of razor blades or have found occasion when you're torn your legs to shreds shaving with the only razor left in your bathroom, and a blunt one at that this removes any concerns.

There are three razors to choose from, the highest priced at £7 per month. That is Samantha, of 'Golden Sam'. 5 blades, a vitamin E lubricating strip and a 'wide soft rubber guard for lifting hairs up'. Samantha is a nicely weight razor and far superior to the plastic handles I am used to - if you've ever pinched your fella's razor this is the quality you're getting here.

I love my Gilette Venus & Olay razor but it is messy and costly to purchase the replacement blades each month. Friction Free Shavings Samantha is a major contender. Of course a monthly subscription may work out excessive for many, especially during Winter when if you're anything like me your legs are encased in tights and you can afford to go a day or two between shaving but you are able to cancel or postpone your subscription at any time so you manage based on your needs.

Friction Free Shaving work on a daily shaving needs basis, you replace your blades every Sunday and at the end of the month your next set arrives. I've so far used the razor three times during a week period and it's working well. I'm keen to see if they are useable for a full seven days and/or it's more based on an average weekly use - especially as if you're shaving daily there's less to tackle each day. But perhaps I'm taking things a little too literally.

Using Friction Free Shaving, however fits your lifestyle certainly appears to work out as a more cost effective option, saves you from ever running out of razors and stops you using bacteria laden, blunt blades on your legs. And at under £2 per week for the highest priced option it's a thrifty choice.

This is a great product for your holidays as you could take one or two sets of blades depending on your holidays duration and dispose when no longer needed. I often grab disposables for my travels or the Gilette Venus Snap but Friction Free Shavings option seems like it'd actually be more travel friendly in size.

As part of your subscription you are able to add on the Friction Free Shave Cream* for £6 which is a lovely product, or though one I'd say nice to have and would depending on the types of products you like to use. Developed by experts and scientists this cream containing Manuka Honey, Shea Butter and Coconut Oil will soften hairs and reduce friction.

Applied onto damp skin I have used my razor with and without and there's no denying it's going to leave legs smoother and softer to touch than a regular shower gel.

Monthly razor subscription service

I'm sold, how about you?

*this post contains press samples

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wash Wizard | Washing without hot water

Not a day has gone by recently when I've seen a Tweet or Facebook update complaining about a broken boiler, it's definitely that time of year. If you don't have a gym whose facilities you can make use of and boiling water to fill up a bath is not ideal then Wash Wizard* might just be for you.

Wash Wizard was set up by four 17 years olds who wanted to make a lasting difference in the community, and even give a percentage of their profits to homeless charities in the UK. The Wash Wizard is a sponge, containing a body wash solution, activated with water and ideal for anyone whose boiler is broker or is simply unable to get to a shower be they at a festival, camping or similar.

For £7.99 you'll receive five Wash Wizard sponges which are small and compact and instruct you how to use as follows,

1. Unwrap
2. Splash with water
3. Squeeze to activate
4. Get washing
5. No need to rinse
6. Air dry

I was impressed on testing the Wash Wizard that the size was sufficient for my needs and how quickly the foam was dispensed. I did struggle with the rubbing in of the foam and allowing to air dry as it didn't feel natural for me but I can imagine in certain situations this is perfectly fine and drying off with a towel or similar is still something you might have to hand in certain situations.

The sponges are reusable although you will need to house in a sandwich bag or similar as the sponge will remain damp for some time, depending I imagine on where you are using or storing. These are such a handy little accompaniment for long car journeys if travelling with children, if you find you're often freshening up in airport bathrooms or perhaps a festival fan. I'm sure we've all used a baby wipe in a pinch on occasion but they are costly, damaging for the environment and I can vouch these sponges are far more fit for purpose.

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review | William Morris Print Ecoffee Cup

reuseable coffee cup

I love my little home but there are many things I miss from living at home with my parents. The biggest, aside from zero rent of course was that evening morning before I'd head to work either mum or dad would bring me in a cup of tea whilst I was getting ready and set me up for the day.

Now it is down to me to supply that morning brew and it's well known that I'm left with barely enough time to make the train let alone enjoy a leisurely cuppa in bed. I don't find that tea travels wells so I get around this quandary by making a cup of coffee to accompany me on my morning commute, or at least I did whilst I was doing one! So far so good but it's the reusable travel cups that I am particularly fussy with. Ecoffee Cup sent me on of their rather stylish William Morris print offerings to see whether it met high standards.

Ecoffee Cups are made with natural, organic and biodegradable bamboo fibre and unlike the plastic offerings available will not taint the flavour of your coffee. Furthermore, in difference to the single use cups from the typical coffee chains the Ecoffee Cup is biodegradable. Once it ends its life, and that should be some years if you treat it kindly, you crush, soak in boiling water and add to your compost. If you're conscious of making more ethical choices then Ecoffee Cup could be a good place to start.

So how did I rate the Ecoffee Cup, which at £11.95 is not your cheapest offering when compared to the, admittedly less ethical options available at stores such as Primark.

My first concern was the lid which is a rubber type I'm typically not fond of as I find all I can taste is the rubber as opposed to my coffee. I was pleased that Ecoffee Cup is either a high grade or different substance, silicone I believe, that it didn't leave that cheap burst balloons taste in my mouth. The lid has a stopper which you open, fold over and pin to expose the hole to drink from.

Each Ecoffee Cup comes with a silicone sleeve to protect your hands from the head of your beverage which was well needed. I could be forgiven for thinking the Ecoffee Cup was ceramic as it felt very warm and was almost a nice treat for my hands as I walked to the station the other morning.

Much like drinking out of a mug at home, your drink won't stay piping hot for too long but long enough to enjoy your coffee on your journey.

Overall I was quite happy with my Ecoffee Cup but for one thing. Whilst not a deal breaker important to me when purchasing a coffee cup is that it is secure and many either leak or, in the case of the Ecoffee Cup have a small hole in the lid (in addition to the area you drink from). What this meant for me was that I couldn't put my Ecoffee Cup in my bag when I'd finished drinking so I popped it on the floor of the train at my feet until I got off. And forgot it! But for that I would be happily using over and over again and it's a shame as but for the pin prick of a hole that would cause liquid to escape it was very sturdy.

Do you use reusable coffee cups?

*this post contains press samples

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Friday, December 9, 2016

US Drugstore Haul & First Impressions

US Drugstore Haul & First Impressions

The gap is closing between UK and US releases thanks the the world wide web but often it can mean paying more and I much prefer to look at products in person than ordering online. Staying at The Venetian in Las Vegas meant I was on top of a vast and rather swanky branch of Walgreens that I was able to pop my head into regularly and pick up a few bits and pieces to try.

Whilst I haven't managed to test out everything, and certainly not for a substantial length of time I wanted to share with you what I sought out on holiday and my initial thoughts. Starting with foundations and top of my list was Milani Conceal and Perfect 2 in 1 Foundation. This foundation is spoke of very highly in blog circles and of course I wanted to jump on the bandwagon. I have tried this out once or twice and it's as impressive as the claims. I do find that one criticism is that it can oxidise slightly and I do experience that somewhat although its more of an issue that I think picked a shade a little darker than I should have.

I was finally able to pick up L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation, again after seeing it covered on everyones blog and YouTube channels. With mixed results I wanted to see what I made of it, especially as I am a big fan of L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation. At the moment I'm undecided. I've only used it a couple of times and not particularly under or overwhelmed. I'm not picking up any 'amazing' glow like I see from Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Fluid which I enjoy nor am I an oily mess at the end of use. I'll report back if I have any further thoughts.

US Drugstore Haul

After the success of the L'Oreal Cushion Foundation, which I'm keen to repurchase, I thought I'd first try one from another brand and picked Physicians Formula All in 1 ABC Cushion Foundation. I've yet to test this out as you can see I've got quite a few foundations on my hands at the moment and I'm conscious once I open this it's something that needs to be in regular use to avoid drying out. As soon as I do dive in you'll be the first to know.

A surprise product was Wet n Wild Illumi-Naughty Highlighting and Concealing Pen which I picked up on impulse when I spotted in the 'new in' section. Where or why 'naughty' is needed in the product name I'm unsure but it's definitely a cheaper interpretation of the YSL Touche Eclat with it's brush tip. This concealer is a light formula that works wonders to brighten under my eyes and more importantly doesn't crease throughout the day thanks to it's moisturising Vitamin E and Chamomile. I've been reaching for this daily and it's already pushed aside other favourites.

Moving onto brows, it's well documented I'm a fan of the lazy approach and love a sweep from a tinted brow mascara or gel. Previously a fan of Maybelline BrowDrama I decided to give the newest brow release from Maybelline a try. Unlike BrowDrama the Brow Precise Fiber Volumizing Mascara has not been a big hit thus far. The eclipse shaped brush feels strange, which is ironic when I favour the odd ball shape from BrowDrama and I just find the fibres too messy and overpowering. With thick dark brows already this isn't flattering and the fibres seem to shed throughout the day. Even worse is trying to remove it, more product ends up across my face. I might give it another couple of goes before it ends up in the bad pile.

Faring better is Wet n Wilds new brow release, Ultimate Brow Mascara.  This is very similar to Rimmel Brow This Way in brush shape although application isn't so heavy which I prefer. I need to use a few more times to cast a full opinion but so far I'm neither in love or hate with it.

Two products from Milani are up next, one hit and one miss. Starting with the miss, Milani Length in Seconds Lash Extension Fibers which is a nightmare for those of us with contact lenses. I felt like I had fluff stuck to my eyelashes! The premise is you apply your mascara, apply the fibres and then seal with a second coat of your chosen mascara. As I use Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara which I find is perfect for volumising and lengthening my lashes I couldn't see any difference nor benefit from using the Milani product.

US Drugstore Haul

A product I will repurchase is Milani Eyeshadow Primer - at long last I have found a drugstore eye primer that works! Thank the lord that Milani now have a UK website for me to purchase as my current favourites were either the Lorac Eye Primer or the more costly Urban Decay version.

I'm in love with the L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadows and it saddens me that they are, or indeed appear to be disappearing from the UK high street. I picked up the shades Glistening Garnet, Golden Emerald and Ice Latte. The latter has been a favourite this month and worn often. I hear it's a dupe for Stila Kitten although I don't have that for my own comparisons. It's a wonderful frosty Winter white shade and the pigmentation of these eyeshadows is second to none. I have a friend heading to the US this month and plan to add another couple to my wishlist.

Wet n Wild have recently reformulated their Color Icon Blushes with a couple of new shades, one of which was Rose Champagne. I have only use this once so far and as a highlighter which worked well for me. It's a nice everyday blush for a little glow or a subtle highlight for evening. I'll experiment some more and see whether it can compete with my other highlighting options.

Teamed with blush before a night out was Maybelline Gel Eyeliner in Striking Copper which I thought would be nice for the festive season. Again after one use I have little to say but there was a nice pigment and it wore well and I'll be reaching for it again.

I was restrained with my lip purchases due to my overflowing stash but did pick up another couple of the Maybelline Color Jolts/Dramas in shades Never Bare and Stripped Down, both apparently dupes for Too Faced products. Never Bare is almost Barbie Pink in shade but admittedly more subtle and not a natural colour I'd wear but on the lip I've been enjoying it. Stripped Down is a brown nude shade and one I'm getting a lot of wear out of day to day. There's something about these tubes and the applicator tip I really enjoy. I'm interested to see how long they last compared to my other lip products.

Finally is a purchase inspired by by Glamour's Alex Steinherr Snapchat. Preparing for an event she put a slick of Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer in Peony and I made a note to pick it up. Not finding it in the UK drugstores when I spotted it in the US I added it to my bag. I had an opportunity to wear last weekend and paired with Mac's Whirl Lip Liner and was pleased with the nude lip look. This lip shimmer is about as close as I think I'll get to the metallic lip trend it's a sheer colour with a shimmer that sits nicer and is creamier than a gloss. The only thing I'm not sure about is the pepperminty taste.

What is on your US drugstore wishlist?

*this post contains affiliate links

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Skincare Review | DHC Bento Box

DHC Bento Box Review

I am rarely sold on the monthly subscription boxes where a box of surprises turns up each month but I do always keep an eye out for brand specific offerings. The DHC Beauty Bento Box* is one such type that I was recently sent to try and share with you today.

DHC is a Japanese skincare brand which I was able to try back in the Summer with positive results. One product I was keen to try and saw popping up all over blogs is the DHC Cleansing Oil, one of the first to make it's appearance on the UK scene, luckily for me it is included in the DHC Beauty Bento Box.

DHC Skincare Review

Each set contains; DHC Revitalising Moisture Strips for Eyes, Blotting Papers, Deep Cleansing Oil and a Mild Mini Soap. As already mentioned it was the Cleansing Oil I was most keen to try and I have no complaints but wasn't overwhelmed. The product that did surprise me was the Mild Mini Soap. I really enjoyed using this and have been reaching for in the mornings and finding my skin looks clean, fresh and awake as a result.

I never think I really need blotting papers until a situation like this where I'll have some to use, throw them in my bag and reach for them on occasion and see the excess oil being soaked up.

Yet to be tested are the Moisture Strips for eyes which I'm planning to bust out this week as despite my current 'unemployed' state life is very hectic at the moment and my eyes are appearing to suffer and I need some help.

If you're looking to gift a friend with some skincare favourites or perhaps keen to try out DHC as a brand yourself and dip your toe in the Japanese skincare offerings this is a great way to do so. Because of the range of products this is even a nice selection of products to purchase and make your own crackers with or add as a table favours.

Are you a fan of Japanese skincare?

*this post contains press samples and/or affiliate links

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Perfume | The Perfect Christmas Gift

There's nothing that says Christmas gift to me more than fragrance gift sets. I'm sure I've received a bottle of perfume in one form or another every Christmas since I can remember, even back in the days when I wore the likes of LouLou.

At this time of year the fragrance gift sets come out in full force and Monsoon have joined the ranks releasing the Rose Gold Gift Set* which is accompanied by a scented body lotion for the festive season.

You may remember I first sampled Monsoon Rose Gold back in August and was once again surprised by the quality of high street fragrance contenders. Monsoon Rose Gold is a floral fragrance and not something I would typically choose but its a scent that I enjoy. Perfumed body lotions can be hit and miss but I'm happy with the Rose Gold offering. I might be wearing thick jumpers by day but at night the arms are out and I'm enjoying matching and adding to the scent with this body lotion in those areas. The festive season can often be spent enjoying food, lots of food so the heavy scents I lean towards would often be too overpowering so it's been nice to enjoy a more subtle option although I will be saving some of this bottle for wearing in the Spring when for me it'd be more suited.

Another surprise hit and a perfume I've been often in recent weeks has been By Invitation, the newly released fragrance from Michael Buble. If you have any women in your life that are a fan of Mr Buble I'm sure they'd love to open up his scent on Christmas morning. This too is floral but a warmer and more oriental scent that Monsoon Rose Gold and is the scent I'll choose if I'm out for lunch but perhaps that occasion might lead to drinks in the evening and I want a scent to last.

And in my opinion, if ever in any doubt, Chanel, always Chanel for a Christmas, for me particularly if you're wondering! I'm lucky to always receive a piece of Chanel here and there whether fragrance or something from their beauty line. I posted last year some of my Chanel picks for the holiday season and always a plus point is their gift wrapping. Chanel has a number of fragrances from the iconic Chanel No 5 or perhaps you know someone who'd like to try the new, more modern and lighter Chanel No 5 L'eau. Trust me, anyone who sees a Chanel gift bag under the tree will be very happy. Well I hope so as someone might be getting a gift from there.

If you're worried about choosing the right fragrance for someone then can I direct you to The Fragrance Shop App*. If you know at least one of the fragrances your friend or relative wears, or the type of scent they like you can enter details into the app and will be given suggestions on alternatives. I've spent hours on the App playing around trying to find new perfumes to try.

What fragrance is on your Christmas list this year?

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Book Your Lifestyle for Christmas

Book Your Lifestyle

There is nothing more I hate than booking appointments for beauty treatments by phone which is why I was more than happy to test and review the newest online booking site Book Your Lifestyle* and see whether they met my 'high' standards.

You can start searching by location or treatment; perhaps you've been looking to try a Brazilian Blow Dry for some time or simply need to fit in a manicure between meetings and need to find somewhere nearby then Book Your Lifestyle will have options for you. I think this would be so helpful as I've attended weddings and decided I want a blow dry and I'm hunting for a reputable salon or simply one with an available appointment. With Christmas Party Season and the chance you're upping the ante with your beauty treatments and often away from home, Book Your Lifestyle can be an invaluable tool in ensuring you're disco ready.

Book Your Lifestyle

Book Your Lifestyle

The booking system is so easy to use and it's perfect for night owls like me who often decide to tick things off the to do list way after a salons business hours. Once you have selected your treatment at your chosen salon hit book and you'll be taken to a screen showing all the available appointment dates and times available. This was fantastic for me as I was running through the process unsure of what date would work best for me so I was able to skip through options available and chose the best one for me without back and forth in conversation with someone over the phone.

Book Your Lifestyle

Payments are required at booking which I liked, there can be nothing more frustrating at the end of a treatment, especially if it's a relaxing one. So the booking of my appointment was simple but how was my treatment itself?

Cucumba, The Urban Pit Stop

Having received emails and texts confirming my appointment at booking I was slightly surprised that there was no further confirmations or reminder. I appreciate this is slight niggle but it did cross my mind by way of a worry when I was en route, what if it has been cancelled or something went wrong. I can confirm that my fears were unjustified when I arrived at Cucumba a few minutes walk from London's Liberty's.

Cucumba calls itself 'the urban pitstop' and it definitely is not your swanky or luxurious type of salon. The decor is nice but does meet the urban name in shades of cream and green and the treatment 'rooms', which are downstairs, are in fact only tables separated by curtains. This is slightly problematic as I could hear the conversation in the treatment room next door and even heard someone enjoying their lunch break from the microwave cooking the meal to the cutlery clattering on the plate and then being washed up. If you were looking to forget the world during your treatment and are sensitive to the slightest noise this might be an issue.

I didn't find entertain the salon was the warmest of welcomes. A therapist looked up from her nail treatment and told me to simply take a seat and my biggest pet peeve was later when time for my appointment arrived and two therapist stood a couple of feet away discussing 'me' and whether my therapist was ready and should I have been taken down for my treatment.

Thankfully Julie, my therapist was lovely. She was very warm, chatty and called me 'my dear' throughout my treatment which was a 90 minute Prescriptive Dermalogica Facial with extraction* for an eye watering £99. I choose this treatment for a number of reasons; I'm not a fan of your traditional facial which I find boring and little I can achieve myself at home, would a £99 facial be worth the money and as a regular user of Dermalogica products I was keen to see how their in house treatments would fair.

After Julie had introduced herself I was told to remove my clothes and climb under the bed - please tell me I'm not alone in finding this moment the worse of any beauty treatment. Have I removed enough, too much, will the therapist walk in mid unrobing and then that excruciating time you're just laying on the bed waiting for them to return.

My first surprise on Julie's return that there was no discussion about my skin concerns, what I expected from the treatment and only that she would be conducting the 90 minute facial with extraction.

The first stage I am only able to presume was cleansing and exfoliating the skin before steam was applied to soften and aid the extraction process which in short, and much to my friends disgust when I was explaining it later is to remove blackheads and whiteheads. This was the bit I was really interested in. Despite my 'beauty blogger status' and my abundance of skincare products I'm still not always the most diligent of maintaining my routine and whilst my skin is far better than it once was as a smoker especially I need a bit more assistance with blackheads.

The steam was not unpleasant although it is strange and if you've been in a steam room when it hits your lungs it is akin to that. Julie chatted to me throughout this process and asked if I'd used Dermalogica products before, discussed that I should exfoliate more and the more surprising suggestion that I should use lemon juice to tighten my pores.

If you've ever wondered about extraction let me tell you it is not a pleasant experience by any means. Julie was great at stopping and starting on different areas, reapplying steam when needed but nonetheless you know how painful it can be squeezing a blackhead on the surface, imagine tackling the ones deeper down. I winced, eyes watered and wondered why I was putting myself through this but I survived and can't deny I've ever seen my skin look so clean.

Julie was very apologetic throughout the extraction process and once complete she reassured me as such and then said now she would get into the relaxation portion of the massage, which I surmise was around 20-30 mins of the actual treatment. Julie was firm rather than the type of facial I hate which feels like my skin is just being pawed at. It's a shame I didn't find out during or after the treatment what products had been used and there was no hard sell at the end for me to purchase any products used so both positives and negatives there.

The facial massage went down to my shoulders and chest and did feel almost invasive on occasion, if you've had a back massage and squirmed at the therapist reaching the buttocks then imagine when you're conscious hands are in the breast area.

A clay mask was applied which surprised as when I'd mentioned using the Dermalogica Clay and Hydrating masks Julie queried why I needed to use the Clay one. The mask was applied and I was told I would be left for 10 minutes whilst this 'went to work'. It's a shame that the time wasn't used to provide a hand or foot massage instead of just laying on a bed alone for 10 mins, especially as at this stage I wondered why I'd needed to remove all my clothing (by that I mean my jeans, I of course left my underwear on).

Once time was up Julie cleaned my face, applied some moisturiser and I was told I could dress and she would meet me upstairs at the counter. I was surprised at this point how quickly time had gone as usually I'm willing the time to end.

Having used Book Your Lifestyle and paid in advance I was able to simply hand over a tip and be on my way. In conclusion was the facial worth it, I think so. Yes I would have liked a few extra touches to make it more of a pampering experience but as a functional facial service my skin looks amazing and I didn't leave more tense then on arriving is often the case due to boredom.

As for Book Your Lifestyle I am a big fan of the site and have already told friends and family about it and used since to book hair appointments when heading for nights out in London. If you have a Christmas party to prepare you'll need them to hand.

Would you find this service useful?

*My treatment costs were reimbursed in exchange for today's blog post

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